Why I’m Not Taking Maternity Leave

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I’ve had a few people ask me recently why I am working when I have got a 7 week old baby – did I not know that I could claim maternity allowance as I’m self employed? The actual fact is yes, I knew and it is something I weighed up for weeks but ultimately maternity allowance at £139 just wouldn’t be enough. A blogger recently contacted me and asked if I knew about it and completely understood when I mentioned why I wasn’t taking it – however I have received some judgement from some people I know in real life. However, it is my situation and my decision – what has it got to do with them?

As I’m working from home (there’s a fab guide here that you can read if its something you’ve ever considered), I have the flexibility of working when I want to. I do try to keep to typical ‘office’ hours but that doesn’t always work that way and I am often seen working weekends or late into the night. I worked out that with my bills and my debt repayments (I’ve talked more about my plan for a debt free 2018 here), £139 per week which equals £556 a month just wouldn’t be enough if I was to factor in any top up groceries we may need or anything that may crop up at Jack’s school. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to spend all the time in the world with my baby but I’m taking the time when she’s asleep or spending time with Steve to actually get some work done. I find it is better to be proactive and keep bringing an income in than not be able to pay my bills.

Another big reason I haven’t taken maternity leave is because I have actually taken on some freelance clients towards the end of 2016 and they wanted work to continue into 2017. They are my biggest client and I don’t want to lose them so I will continue working for them around my children. I’ve also had a really great January and February for income – I’ve even managed to pay off some debt – so if I had taken maternity leave, I wouldn’t have made that money and I would have probably lost a big client.

I’m lucky that I’m able to work from home around my children, I don’t deny that. But I’m not taking maternity leave this time around because it just isn’t worth it for me – and I’m well on my way to becoming debt free so why stop now? Whilst Olivia is asleep, I am going to work and keep the pennies rolling in. Is that so wrong?

My Ultimate Spa Experience

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Being a mum of two children aged five and under, getting time to relax is extremely rare. When I do, it means I get a few minutes for a bath or some time to read my book. Most recently, my mother in law took me out to get my hair cut and coloured and the time to relax was bliss. However I’ve been talking with my friends recently and we are determined to go on a spa day and really get a chance to relax.

But what would be my ultimate spa experience? I’ve never actually been to a spa despite always wanting to so I’m unsure what I’d love the most. The team over at www.ellisons.co.uk are in the process of creating an eBook about the Ultimate Spa Experience and I am intrigued to see just what will be included in that. Everyone has different ideas about their perfect spa day but what exactly is mine?

I think for me I would definitely have to get a massage. I’ve always suffered with aches and pains but more so since having my children and it would be nice to be able to get the stress and tension massaged away, especially down at the lower back where I get most of my pain. I’d definitely have to get a facial as I’m not getting any younger and I need to show my face I still care about it, right? It doesn’t get much love.  I’d also have to take a dip in the pool and then finish off with a trip to the sauna too.

To make it the ultimate spa experience with my girls, it’d have to be a real treat – maybe a three course meal for us all, a few glasses of champagne or perhaps even some afternoon tea. If I’m going to a spa, I want to not have to worry about a thing – and that includes eating too. Food, fun, relaxation. What’s not to love? Of course I’d have to find a spa that caters for everything we want but that shouldn’t be too hard.

For my ultimate spa experience, I want to not have to worry about a thing – let someone else do the worrying for once. I want to spend some time with my girls, chatting and reminiscing on funny things from the past. I want to try a variety of treatments and feel pampered and fed to within an inch of my life. Is that too much to ask for?

What would your ultimate spa experience be?

Why You Should Choose Organic Cotton Clothing For Newborn Babies

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When it comes to pregnancy, we spend nine whole months looking after and protecting our unborn child – avoiding alcohol and the extensive list of foods we’re told to stay away from, protecting our bump from hits and taking our folic acid and vitamins. As parents, we want to do best by our child, give them the best chance in life – and this starts from the very moment they are born.

Newborn skin can be very sensitive so it is important to choose clothing for your baby that won’t irritate them and is soft on their skin rather than rough. With Olivia having been born less than three weeks ago, newborn clothing is something we’ve been buying a lot of and we’ve been veering towards organic cotton clothing such as the Natures Purest Newborn Range as we want to ensure Olivia is as comfortable as possible.

There are so many benefits to using organic cotton clothing on babies – especially when they have the potential to have quite sensitive skin like their brother as Olivia could possibly do. The material is sourced from organic farms, farms which don’t use chemical substances such as pesticides or fertilisers, plus the manufacturers use environmentally friendly methods of production, eliminating the need for toxic chemicals which can irritate a newborns sensitive skin.

We are also creating a demand for organic clothes which in turn encourages organic farming, thus helping to reduce the amount of toxic chemical substances being used. This will ultimately reduce the percentage of toxicity in the surrounding environment such as air, water, and soil – safeguarding not only our present but our future too.

We’ve been choosing organic cotton clothing for Olivia this time around as we know its good for not only her but also the world around her – we want to protect our baby from any harm – and protecting her from the potential of irritated skin from her clothing is just one of the ways. If you want to help not only your child but also help organic farms too, why not consider opting for organic cotton clothes for your baby – you definitely won’t regret it!

Trying New Things In 2017

I always talk about wanting to try new things but it can be so hard to put that plan into action. With such a busy life with two children, two blogs and my freelance work plus a home to run (plus all of the kid’s appointments and activities too), finding time for myself and to try something new is proving increasingly difficult. I am yet to finish a book in 2017 – good thing I chose a low reading goal for my 2017 reading challenge – but I am keen to try at least a couple of new things this year.

One of my major bugbears is that I didn’t persevere with Modern Foreign Languages in secondary school. I gained half a GCSE in both French and German as I was in the top set for both and we did an advanced course – I considered studying French at GCSE but ultimately switched it out for Geography, a decision I regret horribly now. Languages have always intrigued me and whilst my school only had French and German to offer back then, I’ve always been more interested in languages such as Italian and Spanish.

Steve’s cousin studied Spanish for A-Levels and I believe even her university course had something to do with Spanish as a language and believe me, I was so envious. I’ve been looking at ways of learning a new language such as Spanish that works around me, my life and my timetable. I could attend classes but these would be hard to find at times that I could actually do – plus Olivia would need to come with me. I’ve also noted online courses but I also need to find time to slot them in. I’ve recently found a website though which enables you to learn Spanish fast – it is called Gritty Spanish and is can be loaded onto any device. They also offer eBooks for easy side by side translations and you learn via the stories told – you won’t be bored like some learning programmes can leave you. They also feature emotive voices from every form of Spanish accent there is  – Spanish, Mexican, Guatemalan and more – so you can really understand the accents and way of saying the words.

This is great to fit around my schedule and my lifestyle and will certainly keep me interested with the fun little stories. What new things do you want to try in 2017?

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My Money Resolutions For 2017

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You may recall that I also run a personal finance blog and follow a lot of personal finance bloggers, both from the UK and further afield. I’ve seen plenty of these bloggers talk about their resolutions for the year, especially when it comes to financial resolutions and I thought it would be fun to share mine. I briefly touched on some financial resolutions in my 2017 goals but here is what I would like to achieve in 2017…

Get debt free or as close to debt free as possible

This is my main resolution for 2017. It is proving quite difficult with a newborn but I am hoping to work extremely hard to earn more income this year and in turn pay off as much as possible. Things have been tough these past few weeks so my income has taken a slight hit – I am not taking any proper maternity leave as the maternity allowance wouldn’t cover my bills let alone any debt repayment- but I am hopeful this will change dramatically once I get into a proper routine with Olivia and know what she is like – I’m still discovering her at the moment though. Some of my debts are quite small and could be cleared quite quickly so I am considering opting for one of the quick loans available (as I have previously considered a debt consolidation loan) to clear a few debts at once and then only have to pay one thing back rather than trying to juggle four or five.

Increase my income

I am already working on this one and whilst it has so far been a little tough with Olivia arriving into the world earlier than expected and some other major emotional issues going on in my private life, I am hopeful that I am able to build on my income in 2017. I recently raised my rates and people are agreeing to them so I know I am on the right track.

Build up my savings

 Some people find it foolish to consider building up savings when you have debt but everybody should have some form of savings behind them. I want to try and build mine up through a variety of ways – selling old items, completing online surveys, maybe even getting back into picking up ‘roadkill’ (coins people have dropped). I will be saving them in a pot and taking them to put in my savings account every month with Jack and Olivia when they deposit into their bank accounts too.

Build my credit score back up

This is something I am adamant I must do in 2017. When Steve and I first met, mine was pretty amazing and his was shocking – now the tables have turned. With me being self employed, my income is very irregular which has caused the odd payment here and there to be missed – whilst I’ve always caught up or arranged something with the company involved, my credit score has taken a battering and I need to change this before the end of the year.

What money resolutions do you have for 2017? What one thing do you hope to achieve?